Planning your ensemble’s performance tour can be an overwhelming experience regardless of whether you're a first-time traveler or a seasoned veteran. Group leaders need to address recruitment, fundraising, creating press kits, confirming performance logistics, creating a repertoire, and a host of other concerns. With so many priorities to juggle, forming clear channels of communications with members of your ensemble is an essential part of organizing a performance tour. While email, message boards, in-person meetings, and various school/organizational platforms are all valuable tools, people have been increasingly turning to social media to help with engagement and promotion.
Our parent company, ACIS, has written a whitepaper entitled “Sharing Your Travels on Social Media” which provides some valuable information about utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help engage students and promote your tour. But what about the unique issues facing performance tours? Based on our experience, we wanted to share some valuable tips for engaging your ensemble and promoting your tour.
1. Create a Unique Hashtag for Your Trip
For anybody unfamiliar, a hashtag is a word or phrase (spelled out without spaces) with a pound sign (#) in front of it. Hashtags are used on all the major social media platforms to help categorize messages by making the word or phrase searchable when clicked. For example, adding the tag #EncoreItaly2020 to a picture would be an easy way to tag pictures of your 2020 Encore trip to Italy and allow people to easily search through messages or pictures related to your trip. You can also add popular travel hashtags to help gain additional exposure and increase engagement.
Make sure that your hashtag is unique, and that it's not being used for another organization's campaign. We would also suggest creating your own group-specific hashtag (i.e. #JonesSingersTravel) and letting group members know this is your group’s “official” hashtag is a great way to help students and parents find your photos easily and quickly. It can be the same across Twitter and Instagram, although they’re not searchable between the two programs.
2. Make Sure Your Bio Includes Information About Your Upcoming Trip
This one might seem simple, but you would be amazed at how infrequently individuals and organizations update their social media bio. People have short attention spans, and you need to hook any potential followers with an interesting and informative bio. Be specific, and make sure to highlight your ensemble's achievements. Provide contact information. Include the hashtag for your upcoming trip. Do you have a fundraising page for your upcoming trip? Include that link right in your bio! This is a quick opportunity to draw in followers, so make sure you're highlighting top achievements and upcoming events.
3. Post Questions to Encourage Ongoing Conversation
Having a call to action is a key ingredient in any effective marketing campaign because it requires the reader to perform a task, thereby increasing engagement. That same principle is true when interacting online with your ensemble. By posing open-ended questions or requesting the completion of a task, you are directly engaging your audience. Sample questions or prompts can include:
– What are you most excited about on your upcoming trip?
– Where are your favorite places to eat in your destination city?
Similarly, make sure to answer any questions that come your way. Authenticity is important, and everybody wants to feel like there's a real person behind a social media account. By keeping it real and having genuine interactions, you can forge a deeper connection with customers, strengthen relationships, and build a larger following.
4. Share Your Press Kit
Every ensemble needs a press kit to help increase its audience numbers, build a strong reputation, and assist with fundraising and recruiting. Having a high-quality press kit is even more essential if you're traveling overseas. Not only will it help differentiate your ensemble in the eyes of the administrative staff at top international venues, but it will also help promote your concerts with local residents that are unfamiliar with your ensemble.
Once you have a good press kit in place, put it on your website and promote it through all social media channels and let people know who you are! Are you recording your performances? Make use of these recordings and keep an online library of them as part of your press kit, website, and other social media channels. Consider posting clips and tagging local media outlets. They are always looking for new content, and this is a great way to generate buzz and publicity.
5. Get Creative
People don't want to read the same bland articles over and over again, so try creating unique content and showcase why your ensemble is different. Consider creating Google Interactive Maps with your upcoming itinerary. You can build free time into your itinerary, so consider talking about popular activities in your destination city outside the musical realm. Encourage participation and engagement by running raffles or giveaways. For example, you could offer a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks or Panera for whoever posts the best photo from your trip and uses your tour's hashtag.
6. Post During Peak Times
Here are the best times to post on each social media platform, according to Hootsuite:
Facebook: Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. EST
Twitter: Monday or Thursday from 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST (emphasis on the 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST window)
Instagram: Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST
These algorithms are consistently changing, but historically it's always been beneficial to post on social media during the weekday lunch hours. If you're not around your computer during those times, free apps like Tweetdeck allow users to schedule posts in advance.
7. Know Your Audience
Facebook remains the largest social media network with over two billion monthly active users, but that doesn't mean it should be your primary focus. Facebook is more popular with middle-aged adults, whereas Twitter and Instagram both skew much younger. In fact, 64% of Instagram's 500 million daily users are between 18 and 29.
Twitter is great for sharing news, upcoming events, and any long-form articles you may have written. You can easily promote upcoming events, build relationships with other ensemble leaders, receive feedback on your performances, and reach new audiences.
Instagram is ideal for sharing photos or videos from your trip. Although they disappear after 24 hours, Instagram stories are a particularly valuable option because they appear at the top of people's feeds, thereby increasing your visibility. This is a great option for promoting upcoming events without cluttering your feed.
Because Facebook tends to skew slightly older, it's a great resource for reaching parents. Consider posting your upcoming concert on Facebook Events and inviting friends and family to RSVP. Encore Tours offers a number of resources to assist with fundraising, but you can also utilize Facebook Events to help advertise upcoming bake sales, car washes, or other fundraising events.
Streaming video has seen its popularity surge, and Facebook Live is a great resource to engage with your audience or hold meetings with parents before a trip. The video will also be saved to the page, so anybody who missed the live stream can catch up at a later date.
Facebook Groups are also a great way to increase involvement from parents and participants. You can upload key documents, answer questions, share packing tips, discuss local points of interest, and much more.
8. Find Ways to Leverage Video Content
Many experts predict that in the next few years, 80% of global internet consumption will be video content. Simply put, fewer people are reading long-form articles and more people are getting their information from internet video. Video provides a unique opportunity to convey the energy and excitement of a live event, so uploading past concerts to YouTube or Vimeo and promoting that video through other social media channels is highly recommended. Facebook has also prioritized video in recent years, so uploading video content directly to Facebook is strongly advised.
Want to try something slightly more advanced? If you have a vast video library from past tours and performances, consider creating a highlight reel including footage from several past events. This is an exciting way to highlight your ensemble's achievements, and it has been shown to be an effective resource to help with promotion, fundraising, and recruiting.
In addition to these eight tips, we encourage everybody to follow @EncoreTours on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Take an amazing photo or video on one of our trips? Please tag us and we'll be sure to share your content with all of our followers!
Inspired to take your ensemble on an international performance tour? Get a quote today!